400,000 London drivers fined for breaking School Streets traffic rules

2022 saw £52m worth of penalty notices issued for breaching traffic and pollution zones around schools

Almost 400,000 drivers in London were fined last year for breaching traffic rules around schools.

New data shows that in 2022 398,745 penalty charge notices were issued by councils for breaches of School Streets regulations, equivalent to 1,092 every single day and worth almost £52 million in total. That is a 10% increase on the number issued in 2021 for breaching the traffic regulations.

The School Streets Initiative allows local authorities to place temporary traffic restrictions on streets around schools at pick-up and drop-off times as a way to reduce congestion and air pollution. There are around 400 permanent School Streets zones in London, plus another 136 trial zones. The penalty for breaching the restrictions is a fixed £130 fine, reduced by 50% if it’s paid within 14 days.

According to the figures obtained by Churchill Motor Insurance, on average each London borough issued 15,336 PCNs in 2022, up from 13,906 in 2021. However, some issued significantly more fines than others.

Lewisham issued the most fines of any borough, handing out 37,393 PCNs to motorists breaking the regulations last year. Lewisham had 45 permanent School Streets in 2022, with another four trail zones – the most of any borough in the capital.  Behind it, Merton and Camden issued the second and third most PCNs – at 35,477 and 33,708 respectively.

At the other end of the table, Southwark, which has 18 controlled zones, issued just 275 PCNs last year while Hillingdon, which has just one School Streets zone issued 245. You can check where your borough ranked for charges in the table below.

The school street initiative started in Edinburgh in 2015 before being picked up by councils in London in 2017. Since 2019 the number of schemes in London has grown from fewer than 20 streets to more than 400 and the programme has expanded to other major cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Glasgow.

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Some schemes use physical barriers such as bollards to close off streets around schools while others are monitored by automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras which can generate automatic PCNs. Until 2022 only London authorities could use ANPR to police moving traffic offences but since June 2022 all English councils have been able to apply for new enforcement powers to issue penalties.

Nicholas Mantel, Head of Churchill motor insurance, said: “School streets are a great way to protect children and create a healthier environment. However, the surging popularity of the schemes means it’s now much easier for drivers to be caught out by new restrictions.

“We would encourage drivers to always check road signs carefully to ensure they avoid any expensive fines. If drivers do receive a fine, they have 28 days to pay it or appeal to an independent tribunal."

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